New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced plans to introduce harsher penalties for anyone caught with drugs, or supplying drugs, at local music festivals.
The new laws will see increased penalties for drug dealers, as well as a trial of on-the-spot fines for people who are caught in possession of illegal drugs.
In a statement today, the NSW Government announced it had accepted all three recommendations made by an “expert panel”, which was convened by Ms Berejiklian following the deaths of two people who attended Sydney’s Defqon.1 hardstyle festival in September.
The NSW Government says it will now introduce a new offence targeting drug dealers, which could reportedly see them charged with manslaughter or grievous bodily harm, should a festival-goer’s injuries be traced back to them.
The Government will also trial on-the-spot fines for people who are caught in possession of illegal drugs, instead of issuing them with a court attendance notice.
What’s more, the NSW Government remains steadfast in its stance against pill testing.
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the Government will be “strengthening” its work in educating festival-goers about the dangers of taking drugs.
“This will involve the provision of additional support to health professionals who work hard every day to try and prevent drug-related deaths,” he said.
The panel convened by Ms Berejiklian consisted of Police Commissioner Mick Fuller APM, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant and Chair of the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority Philip Crawford.
Since Ms Berejiklian vowed to prevent Defqon.1 from returning to NSW, pill testing advocates have increased their push for pill testing services at Australian festivals, while a number of high-profile festivals and musicians have urged the Premier not to shut down local events, and instead open a dialogue with the industry.
Defqon.1 has since been invited to move to Canberra, where the prospect of further pill testing trials remains, following a successful pilot program at the Canberra leg of Groovin The Moo in April.
In August, a $100,000 fundraiser was launched to help support the roll out of pill testing programs at more Australian music festivals.